Shhh, It’s A Cookbook Secret…

robinhoodbake003I’ve been collecting vintage cookbooks (and other ephemera) for decades. But it’s not because I actually cook. Other than baking, I nearly hate cooking. Thankfully, my dear hubby is the cook in the house. (Aside from baking and cleaning, I tend to stay out of the kitchen.)

So what is my interest in cookbooks then?

There are many other things to be found in cookbooks, especially the vintage ones. I am particularly fond of the thrift tips and, because I am an antiques dealer as well as a collector who likes to live with old things, I find the cleaning tips quite helpful. And who doesn’t love the old graphics? But primarily my interest in the old cookbooks lies in all the cultural clues.

You can tell a lot about a culture from its cookbooks. For example, according to this 1961 Betty Crocker cookbook (Betty Crocker’s Outdoor Cook Book), there was a Mid-Century swing to putting fireplaces in homes for cooking.

A striking change is taking place in American cooking and entertaining. The backyard barbecue is fast becoming the nation’s number one hobby as, each year, more families discover that fun and good fellowship seem to double around an open fire; that nothing is more appetizing that the aroma of food grilling over glowing coals; and that the easy informality of service under the wide sky makes even the most elaborate patio party seem carefree.

The taste of charcoal broiled meats is so delicious that many of no longer let the end of summer mean good-bye to the “Cook-out.” When the snow flies, it becomes the “Cook-in” at the fireplace or at the broiling hearth now so often seen as a feature of new kitchens or family rooms.

The popularity of backyard barbecues makes sense. They are embedded images of the Atomic American lifestyle, part of the postwar attitude that creative hobbies enhanced life and “made it worth living”. But I have no recollection of this “Cook-in” phenomenon. Was cooking with real fire inside homes — not gas stoves with flames on burners, but cooking in fireplaces and on broiling hearths — a thing? (And what the heck is a “broiling hearth”??!)

Sure, I was only born in 1964 & so have little memories of the early 1960s. However, if so many homes had such things as fireplaces and hearths for cooking, they still would have existed in the 1970s. As a kid, I went in and out of a lot of homes… Extended family, friends, the neighbors… And none of them had these cooking hot spots.

retro mid-century fireplacesSure, there was the whole retro mod fireplace thing (which mainly was a home decor “You had the money for that?!” statement piece), but the closest to cooking that fireplace got was when the fondue pot and accoutrement was placed on the coffee table near it. (Majestic, Malm, & Preway were the names in Mic-Century Modern fireplaces.)

Should General Mills be telling the truth, and not having Betty blow some marketing sunshine up my apron, there are other reasons that I likely know nothing of this “cooking with fire in the home phase” of American life. Primarily this boils down to the socioeconomic status of my life.

We were Middle Class folks, yet not the Upper Middle Class sort who were building their own homes. Plus, in my family, my mother worked — as in she had a career. Cooking was no longer her main focus — if it ever had been. (I married a man like Dear Old Dad, one who cooks!) As a result of all of this, the trendy “cook with fire inside” thing likely was a trend my parents were neither interested in nor one they likely could afford. (We were, however, early adopters of the microwave oven.)

crocker-outdoor-cbThanks to a number of things, I really have done no better in socioeconomic terms than my parents. To keep it simple, I am a 99%-er. While I am in the midst of slowly restoring a century old house, I have no plans for internal cooking with fire options. (I am no cook, remember?)

Anyway, while we slowly restore that house, we live in a very small house — and too much stuff. So, we are downsizing, including our personal collections. (In part why I have been so quiet at this blog; it is time consuming work!) This means that I am currently listing a lot of my antique and vintage cookbooks in our Etsy shop. And other items from my other collections, such as vintage and pulp paperbacks, will be there soon too. Along the way, I will do my best to share interesting tidbits from these items here and at my other blogs (see links under “Deanna Elsewhere”).

“The Challenge Of The 50s — Years Of Crisis”

Doing some research for doll articles, I ran into this bit from the December 18, 1950 issue of Broadcasting Telecasting about a one hour, Chevrolet sponsored, CBS radio & TV program in which radio reporters from “all over the world” would discuss and present the issues.

challenge-of-the-1950s

The program was The Challenge Of The 50s — Years Of Crises, headed by Edward R. Murrow. The other 10 reporters were Howard K. Smith, Bill Costello, David Schoenrun, Richard C. Hottelet, Winston Burdette, Ned Calmer, Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingwood, and Larry Lesueur. (With names like that, one questions the accuracy of “reporters from all over the world.” Rather than imply international reporters, it should have been stated that the show was with “reporters stationed all over the world.”) These reporters would become known as Murrow’s Boys and the show would go on to be an annual program, best know as Years of Crisis.

For those of you who prefer to think of the 1950s as an idyllic time, one to romance over, there were issues and crises. In fact, one of them was regarding journalism itself, as the film Good Night, and Good Luck covered. This topic is illustrated clearly, if meekly, in the very same issue of Broadcasting Telecasting with mentions of Drew Pearson‘s being attacked by McCarthy and discussions of media censorship. You can click to read larger versions of the articles as needed.

1950-drew-pearson-mccarthism

1950-issue-of-Broadcasting-Telecasting-censorship

Faulty Memoirs

It seems my thoughts about autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs have some scientific backing. At least in terms of the memory part.

Researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University looked at the exact point in time when incorrectly recalled information was implanted into an existing memory. The study, How your Memory Rewrites the Past, is broken down simply by The Independent:

The team found that memory rewrites the past with current information, updating recollections with new experiences. This form of editing happens in the hippocampus, working as the memory’s version of a film editor or special effects team.

Not that this helps with the problem of wandering into the kitchen and not knowing why I went there… I guess that’s for another study.

hippocampus

An African Princess Who Stood Unafraid Among Nazis

Between 1939 and 1946, Fatima Massaquoi penned one of the earliest known autobiographies by an African woman. But few outside of Liberian circles were aware of it until this week, when Palgrave McMillian published The Autobiography of an African Princess, edited by two historians and the author’s daughter. The book…

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

See on www.theroot.com

Dance, Ballerina, Dance (Remembering Kathy Keeton; Gone To Soon & Forgotten Even Faster)

Have you heard about the big Bob Guccione auction that’s being held today?If you haven’t, get over there and look now! This post will be waiting for you when you get back.

Among the erotic offerings from the estate of Penthouse founder, there are Kathy Keeton items up for auction. Who was Kathy Keeton? For starters, Keeton was Guccione’s longtime girlfriend and eventual wife. But she ought to be remembered for far more than that.

Bob Guccione And Kathy Keeton

Remembering Keeton just for her relationship with Guccione would be like simply dismissing Keeton for her beauty. True, Keeton, was beautiful; a ballerina who ended up on the burlesque stage stripping and with small parts in British B-movies, she was beautiful in face and form. But along with those attributes she was damned smart.

vintage nude topless Kathy Keeton Framed Photographic Portrait

Mother Of A Stripper

keeton Spy Who Came in from the Cold 1965

Kathy Keeton was one of the first women in magazine advertising sales. Sure, she was working for Penthouse; and that might upset a few women (then and now) who find all sexuality degrading to women. But at that time, there were few women in magazine publishing — other than Ms, of course. Keeton would help shape the future of Penthouse, especially the US edition, by directing the publication’s marketing efforts; she would co-found, write, and work for OMNI; run Viva: The International Magazine For Women; found a newsletter called Longevity which would become an international magazine; author books; as well as play a fundamental role in strategizing the long-term plans for the company, General Media Communications Inc., which published the magazines. Through it all, Ms. Keeton was noted for her leadership and advancement of women in publishing, including Anna Wintour (Vogue) and Nancy LeWinter (of Mode).

kathy keeton vintage ad for viva

More than a magazine publisher, Keeton knew media in general and was among the first to see the potential of what we now call digital media. She was instrumental in Penthouse’s move to video and, later, the Internet. As early as 1992, Keeton was onto something that many publishers today are struggling to get:

She dreams of eventually putting her magazines on disks. “Niche magazines are the future,” Keeton says. On the high-tech side, she adds: “Knowledge is a key commodity now. Publishers are sitting on a gold mine of software.”

At the time of her death in 1997, 58 year-old Keeton was both president and chief operating officer of General Media Communications Inc. and vice chairman of the holding company that oversaw the publishing arm, General Media International. This was in addition to not only battling breast cancer but the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as well. (Keeton wouldn’t die from cancer, but rather from complications during intestinal obstruction surgery.)

Since Penthouse would beat Playboy in sales (and, subjectively, in other areas as well), it’s a shame that Guccione doesn’t have a bigger name than Heffner; but worse still is how so many have forgotten about Kathy Keeton. Even the official Guccione Collection website has little about her.

I hope to do more research & writing on Keeton; until then, here’s a quick list of her films: Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (Man in a Cocked Hat in the US, starring Peter Sellers, 1959), Expresso Bongo (1959), Too Hot to Handle (released in the United States as Playgirl After Dark, starring Jayne Mansfield, 1960), and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (starring Richard Burton, 1965).

Kathy Keeton's Ballet Notebook

Kathy Keeton's Ballet Ephemera

Kathy Keeton's Ballet Notebook Journal

Women’s Yellow Pages

Women’s Yellow Pages of Greater Milwaukee, 1995-1996. (Please refrain from jokes about “fingers doing the walking” among the women of Milwaukee. Thank you.)

milwaukee womens yellow pages

Today, Yellow Pages & phone books in general seem so quaint…. And women themselves today? Not exactly “quaint”, but certainly undervalued. So I was amazed to find out that such Women’s Yellow Pages still exist in some areas.

Related: My article at Collectors Quest regarding the history of telephone books.

“Lynchers!” She Screamed

The Road To San Jacinto, by L.L. Foreman, a genuine Pocket Book Western (#824). Cover art by Carl Mueller, depicting a buxom woman holding a gun to the threat of at least four men wearing those white hoods synonymous with the KKK.

Why were Dain and Cleo hunted like animals? Why were they constantly forced to hide? Only Cleo could answer. For the secret was hidden in her birth — and she dared not reveal her dangerous heritage to the man she loved!

sanjacintopb

More Women In The Pages

Another woman for the women’s pages is Miriam Baker Nye. Known simply as “Miriam” — often used just like that, in quotes — she wrote a regular column for rural women entitled From the Kitchen Window which ran from 1953-1981 in the Farm Weekly. (The Farm Weekly was a publication of The Souix City Journal and Journal-Tribune newspapers of Souix City, Iowa, which served “all Siouxland.”) This scan of page 16 of Here’s How The Farm Weekly Serves You presumably shows the regular header for her columns.

Her recipes and ideas from that column would later be published in book form in Recipes and Ideas “From the Kitchen Window” (1973). (If there aren’t any copies at Amazon, check eBay.)

She would also author But I Never Thought He’d Die: Practical Help for Widows (1978) after the death of her husband, Carl Baker. (Three years after Mr. Baker’s death, Miriam would marry Methodist minister Reverend John Nye and become Miriam Baker Nye.)

The Early History of Women & Film

Every so often, we women complain about women in the media. When it comes to movies, we complain about the diminished roles for maturing women; we complain about the way women are portrayed in films; we complain about the history of films, most notably The Hollywood Code which seemed to destroy & limit our potential as women in film — on both sides of the camera. But long before all that, in the very beginning, it was even worse.

In Movie-Struck Girls: Women & Motion Picture Culture After the Nickelodeon, by Shelley Stamp, we learn more than just the roles of women in films or behind the camera — we learn about women’s role as patrons of cinema.

The book is an eye-opening look at a long ignored part of American film history — and an astonishing look at the history of women as media consumers.

Stamp spent over ten years researching for this book. She studied trade journals, fan magazines, ephemera, and many official documents and records at the National Board of Censorship Archives in New York City, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles, & the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Many of the films she reviewed are no longer readily available, let alone circulating, but can be found at the Library of Congress & the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

It sounds like a huge undertaking, & I thank her for it. ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ presents a wealth of information that I had never known before.

Movies began with the nickelodeon, and as such, movies were not places for proper or even improper ladies to be. In the early 1900s, when films were being moved from temporary places with projection onto sheets & walls, and cinemas were being built, many in the business of film, began to reconsider women. This was a purely economic move. For if these new developments, these more expensive buildings, were going to pay for themselves & gain profits to pad pockets, the new movies must include women as patrons & gain their approval.

Why? In ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ the author reminds us of an America where women were seen as the keeper of the family morals. Neither little Johnny Jr. nor Johnny Sr. would be allowed to go to such places if Mother didn’t approve. In order for women to view movies as more than sordid places where her family wouldn’t be caught dead, these new cinemas would need to gain the respect of women. The best way to do that, would be to show women, fine respectable women, how respectable & fine the theaters were. It was thought that if women would give the theaters a try, and continue to come, their physical presence would elevate the standing of film viewing.

So, movie theater owners began to court women as patrons.

They did so via premiums & tie-ins & in addressing the decor of the cinemas themselves. As a marketing person, I enjoyed the conceptions about women, and how they would lure them into the movie-going fold — with many of the tricks still employed in the movie trade today. As a woman, I felt more than a bit bitter to see what they thought…

As Stamp illustrates, cinemas were designed with appeal to women in mind. They were located near shopping and offered services such as package holding with hopes of luring women into the buildings. The buildings themselves were decorated to attract the feminine. It was suggested in industry publications that cinemas ought to have lobbies, with plenty of mirrors, to encourage female patrons — by appealing to their vanity. They thought ‘what woman doesn’t want to see herself & parade for others?’

But then, they complained that women didn’t know how to behave properly: they talked, they interrupted the absorption of the movies themselves. The very women they encourage to be vain, to come to the theater to be seen, these women didn’t want to sit quietly in a dark room full of others who were not paying attention to them. These women who were, by societal standing, to ‘dress’ for these public events, they wore hats that blocked views. And so even while courted by the film industry as valuable assets to ensure the viability of films as safe, moral entertainment for families, the industry mocked them in articles & cartoons. The debate within the industry as to the need for women, how to both cater to while educating them to achieve their purpose, was entering full swing.

But this was only the industry side of the debate; Next, Stamp shows us society’s debates.

In the early 1900’s, the most popular films were vice films, & in the teens, a major societal concern was The White Slave Trade. Sensational white slave films were made during this time, to warn folks of the dangers to their women. Conflicting with the as-billed-educational-films messages, cinemas brought women-folk out into public where they could easily fall prey to such ills as the white slave trade. Debate centered around the irony. Other debate focused on the films themselves, and censorship issues were raised. And to make matters worse, women seemed to enjoy such films! Oh, how could such tender beings watch & enjoy such lewd filth such as scenes from brothels?!

Obviously, women enjoyed the films from the same points of fascination as men, but as the author clearly reminds us, there is more. Adding to the fascination, was the fact that women themselves has seen little of ‘the world’ — even if that ‘world’ was part of their very own city. Through movies, women vicariously saw their nation. This alone would make these films riveting for women.

Again, as movie houses were public gathering places, classes mingled. Not only were there the fine upscale families as so recruited by theater managers, but along with them, the working class — including single women. Single women moved about the theater as patrons, both in danger & dangerous themselves. A woman alone could end up in the slave trade, or she might mingle with gentlemen of good standing… In fact, theaters often hired pretty, single young girls to be ticket sellers, ushers, cigarette girls etc. This was seemingly at odds with the motives of ‘women adding respectability’ and elevating the idea of theater, but it was a lure that worked. But the independent woman, even if only a work-class-girl, is dangerous. Much debate centered around the appropriateness of such places for women & families.

Since the elevation of cinema depended upon the stamp of approval from women, including materials & promotions designed to engage them, the talks about women’s roles in film viewing were discussed by women. Given the general fear of ‘those darn suffragettes,’ encouraging women to debate the social & safety issues of women viewing film — in the context of women viewing educational films about civil matters — seemed a dangerous thing indeed.

The film industry needed to ‘clean up’ the entertainment, so they began to focus on films aimed at women, with stories & formats they knew — Enter the serial film.

The industry coordinated film with print versions of stories in newspaper & print publications. Again, these were often aimed at women, but then came the ‘oh no!’ cry, as women did in fact enjoy the adventure stories. It is at this time that film gave rise to the very popular female star. She was now revered for both her on-screen & off-screen antics. So much so, that young women everywhere started dreaming of being a movie star themselves!

To counter act the scary notion of independent women, adventure serials, & vice films it became routine to mock independent women, with notions of becoming a movie star, or worse, civic ideas. The author clearly shows examples, such as a 1916, The Motion Picture Classic cartoon with the following poem to illustrate this concern:

“When our dear grandmas were girls,
They’d smile and smooth their pretty curls.
Look in the mirror then & say
“Oh, will he think me fair today?”

Today the girlies everywhere,
In the mirror gravely stare;
“Am I fair enough,” they day,
“To be a movie star some day?”

But poetry would not be deemed enough. There would also be many films to lampoon the suffragette.

Mainly these films attempted to show how crazy things would be if women could vote. Movies depicting women taking over government & leaving men’s needs behind darkly illustrating the dangers present to men were made, but more often, comedy was used. Cross-dressing men & women exchanged roles, with only love ‘saving’ the women from their folly. Ironically, it seems to the reader that perhaps these movies did more favor to the opposition than to their own cause.

The suffragist movement noted the power of cinema. If educational films were popular, and women not only allowed but encouraged to attend, why not make propaganda films of their own? Both the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) & the Women’s Political Union (WPU) made films to both rally women to the cause & to educate resistant men & women. Sadly, many of their films seemed to falter at romantic notions. In order to make the female stars appealing, less threatening, most often the female lead would succumb to love & home, happy with her vote, but definitely not claiming civic responsibilities.

In ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ you learn all about these long-hidden details of American film history & it’s collision with turn of the century American values — including titles, studios, stars, organizations, & political figures. For a person who adore film & is a passionate feminist, this is a great read. Why it’s as thrilling as those old adventure serial films!

Stamp does a great job of presenting this long ignored part of film — and women’s — history. It’s definitely an academic read, which means it is meaty enough for those who want to further search for clues, artifacts & films themselves. It may not read like a novel, but it’s so fascinating & full of details, it won’t disappoint. Fans of film, especially silent films, cannot call themselves educated in the subject unless they know this history. And women, well, we start to see a much larger image emerge — our complaints regarding women in the media have much deeper roots than we previously knew.

So You Want To Sell Your Books (Almost Everything You Need To Know)

So you’ve decided to get rid of your books… Sometimes it’s just a matter of making some empty space on the bookshelves; sometimes you want to fill the empty space in your wallet or checking account. If you are realistic, you can achieve a bit of both at the same time — if you aren’t on some sort of quick deadline.

The first thing to decide or know is your goal.

Are you trying to make money? Is the money just to be used to support your reading habit (to buy more books) or to become a bookseller (and make a full or part-time income)? Are you just trying de-clutter your living space? Do you need to divest yourself of your books in a short time-frame?

In a hurry?

If time is a constraint, say you need to get rid of a lot of books before you move in a few weeks, there’s always your local used bookstore. They may not pay you much for the books, but, if they take all your books, you will get your space back.

You can also donate used books. Along with thrift stores, there are many other places to donate books, many of which will allow you to take a tax deduction for them. Hospitals, women’s and children’s shelters, nursing homes, groups that work with the homeless — many charities take books. Prisons even take books. Generally speaking, anything with “adult” themes (i.e. erotic fiction, and, sadly, in many cases, books on human sexuality) should be pruned from your collection prior to donation.

If you have the time and transportation, you can do a combination: take your boxes into the used bookstores, have them pick what they want to pay for, and then donate the remainders.

Not in a hurry or just a reader with a few books to get rid of?

Readers may be more interested in swapping books. There may be local groups in your area; you can check sites like FreeCycle to find them. And you can also use online sites such as BookMooch, PaperbackSwap, and even BookCrossing.

So you’ve decided to sell your books…

Next, you have to decide what kind of books you have (simply used books or more valuable works) and then determine which is the best place to put them in front of the appropriate bibliophiles (readers, collectors) — while keeping in mind how quickly you need them to sell.

Some sites, like eBay, which offer the auction format, are designed to have quicker sales. Other sites, like Amazon, Abe, Etsy, and eBay stores, allow books to be listed for longer time periods. Some sites, like Abe and Alibris, are known for specializing in books.

Along with online marketplaces, there’s also creating your own site. PayPal buttons offer easy purchasing. Blogging software, like WordPress, now offers ecommerce plugins. These options require you to drive your own traffic to get sales; but the rewards can be greater in terms of control and profits.

Are your books worth anything?

That depends.

When it comes to the sale of anything, the value the item has is determined by the marketplace. Simply put, the buyer buys at the price he wants to pay; a wise seller knows what is fair to ask. Three general rules on book values are:

1) The newer and more popular a book is, the less value it has. Just try to make money of a mass market Twilight paperback; they are everywhere and have little value right now.

2) Older books value lies in having a popular interest (a larger number of people looking to buy it) and in being rare. Yesteryear’s Twilight sensations may still have no value because so many copies were printed and sold — and still can be found. But, with vampires, horror, and the occult still being a popular interest, older books in these areas may be worth quite a bit, providing the book is still a good story and/or is a rare find.

3) Condition is always an issue. The less legible, intact, or as originally issued (dustjackets, etc.), the less value the book has.

It’s important to research your books in terms of prices as well. Using BookFinder can help you find an idea of what a book may be worth. I say “may be worth” because you’re going to get not only a wide array of varying book conditions (which will affect price) but the prices you’ll see listed are asking prices. Who knows how long those books will sit there for sale at those prices, if they will even sell? FadedGiant helps book sellers by providing a database of prices realized (prices sold for) in antique, vintage, and collectible books. It’s important to note that the FadedGiant service is limited. It does not have every old book in the database. Their sold listings will not tell you anything about the condition of the books. And any prices realized will be but a snapshot of what the books was worth at that time. But FadedGiant and BookFinder are great ways for the novice to get an idea of price range; what titles, authors, and attributes are most desirable; and where different sorts of books are being sold. Many professional booksellers use a combination of sales outlets, real world and online, to maximize profits selling their books.

Multiply this work by the number of titles you have, and you can see how the time adds up!

What costs are there?

Seller fees. Each online sales marketplace has a fee structure. There are fees for listing items, fees for when items sell, and sites like PayPal, merchant accounts, etc. have fees for handling the sales transactions. Depending upon which sales platform(s) you use, you’ll have a mix of these costs. Knowing them upfront means you can more accurately set your book prices so that you profit from the sale after fees are taken out or paid.

Shipping costs. Shipping costs include boxes and mailers, packing tape, shipping labels (the ink and paper you print them on), and other items for packaging. There’s also fees for shipping insurance and tracking options which many sellers must use to protect themselves during sales transactions. If you don’t properly calculate and charge for those shipping costs, it can really eat at any profits you may have.

So can the time it takes to ship items. A lot of sites won’t let you add-on a handling fee to your sale, but let me tell you, if you list a lot of books it can take hours from your week or even your day to pack and ship the books you sell.

Additional time factor costs. Along with the time invested in research, there’s time listing your item. You’ll want to not only to give all the usual information (title, author, publication date, etc.), but you’ll want to mention any interesting features (is it illustrated, signed by the author, a first edition, etc.) and you’ll need to describe the book’s condition (is it written in, is the binding sound, etc.). Per the site’s rules, you may need to photograph or scan at least the cover. Sometimes, when you list an item online you’ll have a lot of questions to respond to from potential buyers or interested bidders. And then there’s the time spent organizing your books for sale. (You have to be able to find a title quickly to answer questions and to ship it.) This time can add up surprisingly fast.

If, after all this, you find you are only getting a dollar or something for your book, it may not be worth your time to sell books online.

What else do I need to know?

Seller feedback and rating systems. When you are new to selling online, it takes awhile and to build feedback ratings. Generally speaking, the more valuable the books you have to offer, the more important the feedback etc. is going to be to potential buyers. Often, a new seller will start out selling some of their items at lower prices just to start earning good ratings from buyers. It can also help to be a buyer at the site as well, as that will help build positive feedback for you as a member.

Promotions. Most successful sellers online now promote their listings, stores, and websites via blogs, social media, etc. Traffic online is like traffic in a store; the more people who stop by to see what you have, the more likely you are to have sales. But learning how to effectively market yourself and promote your goods online is a whole other set of skills — and, for many, another learning curve.

Other options:

If you don’t feel you have the feedback (or the time to generate the feedback), if you feel this is too much to learn, or if selling your books is just a one-time event you don’t feel is worthy of investing so much time in, there are other options.

There are people and companies willing to sell for you, such as eBay consignment shops. And there are dealers and others who may buy books directly from you.

You can post your offerings on places like Craigslist; walk your books into antique shops, used book stores, etc.; or sell to book dealers and those who manage estate sales. If you have a large number of books to sell, and they are not overly rare or otherwise valuable, this most likely will mean selling to local dealers in your area. But there are dealers, estate agents, and even auction houses which will make long-distance deals as well, provided your books are worth either party paying for the shipping costs.

Remember, dealers, used bookstores, antique shops, and the like are only going to pay you wholesale prices for your books. “Wholesale” means at a lower price than what the books will eventually sell or retail for to buyers and collectors. That means you will not get the top dollar from book dealers and other such folks. That’s only fair; look at all the work they are doing to get it! Plus, you’ll have cash in hand, while they will be waiting for the books to sell to get their share.

50 Shades Of Humiliating

Fifty Shades Magazine

When I spotted the cover of the Fifty Shades magazine leering at me from it’s in-your-face product positioning in the check-out lane at a local grocery store, I immediately broke out into a grin of disbelief. Here? In Fargo, North Dakota?! How utterly fabulous!

In a world where human sexuality is taboo — and women’s rights to have it is steadily shrinking, I was so giddy with the mere idea of the magazine sitting on display so blatantly, so defiantly, that I pounced on a copy. And unable to contain myself, I dared to speak aloud.

“I bet you’ve seen a lot of these leaving — and with old ladies like me,” I said to both the male cashier and the bag boy precisely at the moment the cashier was scanning the publication.

The cashier managed to avoid eye contact and comment via hyper-focus on his check-out duties. The bag boy, caught off guard, looked to see what I was speaking about as it was handed to him and he awkwardly, loudly, replied, “Umm, we must have just got these in; I haven’t seen them before now.” Followed by profuse blushing as his brain caught up with what his eyes were reading.

It was rather anticlimactic.

Even though I’m not sure what I was expecting or hoping for.

But if buying this magazine was anticlimactic, it was a major disappointment to read it.

Filled with pages of uncredited “articles” which were so bland it would make the much disliked and even hated Cosmo seem intelligent, Fifty Shades just left me feeling sad, yet again, about the sad state of magazines for women.

In Underwary, feminist platitudes serve to bolster mocking men — while focusing primarily on male pleasure: “It’s your body,” “Men don’t understand lingerie,” “He will blow it,” “Instead of letting him navigate the world of satin and lace all alone, surprise him and say you’re going shopping together. He’ll think you look great, you’ll feel great, and everyone will benefit. (But mostly him.)”

Oh, and don’t forget to exercise and diet too.

Because it’s important for women to focus on their appearance even during fantasies.

*heavy sigh*

Now, I’ve never ready any of the 50 Shades books, so as an ethical reviewer I can’t say anything about how “true” the magazine is to the “steamy series”. But that won’t stop me from having an opinion — an educated opinion — regarding the reaction to the books.

As a woman, I’ve not only taken a rather long road to my own personal sexual discoveries and satisfaction, but along the way I’ve uncovered and pondered our historical and cultural cues regarding sexuality — these being, largely, the reasons it was such a long road. And as a collector, I’ve been documenting this as a part of women’s history as well. The short story is that this whole Fifty Shades thing is not new. Not in terms of books; not in terms of shock and backlash either. We have a lot of dumb rules and taboos about gender and sex (NWS).

For those reasons, this Fifty Shades magazine will not be tossed out but rather saved as part of my collection. As will my scarlet letter “A”. (I got mine! Did you get yours?) The difference, obviously, is which one I believe in, like, admire…

The biggest question then is, do I leave some sort of notes about that so that my kids or future people know why I saved these things, what kind of person I was?

Thoughts On Gypsy Rose Lee

I recently, again, watched Natalie Wood’s Gypsy (1962). While the film is stunning — as rich & saturated in period color as it is fashion and sex appeal, I’m always moved by the story.

Yes, there’s the somewhat dated camp we now expect of a vintage musical movie, but along with the comedic moments of dancing cows and the suspended belief required for any drama to contain people breaking out into song (often with dance), there’s a story. What made me go back and watch the film again was what Peter Burton wrote in his review of Noralee Frankel’s Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee:

Like the musical, Stripping Gypsy is dominated by Rose Hovick, Gypsy Rose Lee’s overbearing mother. But whereas the Rose of the Broadway show is a larger-than-life and bullying archetype of the stage mother determined that first one daughter and then the other would become a star, the reality was grimly different.

“Rose’s mental illness, emotional brutality and overt bisexuality were not the stuff of a Fifties musical,” explains Frankel in the preface to the book, surprisingly the first ever biography of the star. Nor had Rose’s more glaring character defects been a part of Gypsy Rose Lee’s autobiography, from which the show had been loosely drawn. Frankly she was a monster, entirely without redeeming qualities.

A native of Seattle Gypsy came from a family of strong women who had little use for men. Her grandmother married young, believing that marriage would give her freedom. She spent much of her life as a travelling saleswoman, marketing hats and lingerie to women in far-flung logging and mining camps.

Rose also married young – she was 15 and used marriage to escape her convent school. Once intent on a stage career of her own she soon diverted her ambitions on to her daughters and created a musical act built around June, Gypsy’s younger sister.

When June defected also by way of an early marriage Rose turned her attention to her eldest daughter who soon became Gypsy Rose Lee. A legend (fostered and burnished by the star in press interviews and self-penned articles) was born.

Perhaps it’s not fair to compare the Broadway musical with the movie version. But then Burton isn’t the first to make such comparisons; his was merely the most recent I’d stumbled into. And what always strikes me most about these sorts of comments, that the telling of the story for entertainment purposes isn’t properly expressing the grim realities — of Gypsy Rose Lee (born Rose Louise Hovick in 1911), or anyone else’s — life.

Obviously, entertainment, be it film or live theatre has it’s own unique bumps and grinds translating the real story with what people will pay to see. (See this week’s episode of Smash, when the audience fails to enjoy the show because — shocker! — Marilyn dies at the end.) But for me, the real issue has to do with our current level of expectations with the storytelling in movies, television programs and other shows.

We (the collective cultural “we” that does not include me) can no longer handle subtle. We need to be hit over the head, we need to be spoon fed every little thing, and we need it to be as graphic as an explosion.

Maybe you have to have some personal experiences with mental illness, abuse, alcoholism and the like in order to feel the sharp “grim realities.” …But that can’t be true, for if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all these years is that no one can really be free of these sorts of situations. We have them. We feel them. But when it comes to films and storytelling as entertainment, so many of us can’t trust them on the screen unless they are worse than what we’ve felt or can imagine.

Not me.

I find many of the scenes in Gypsy difficult to watch. I feel the pain, the losses. I feel the embitterment, the waste, even in the triumph of success.

Gypsy Rose Lee may be, arguably, the most famous striptease artist; but for me the story is tainted. Not by the shame or dirt of sex; but by the shame and dirt of a mother’s cruelty — which is sad it it’s own way too.

In my opinion, no biography or even autobiography is ever capable of exposing the whole truth.

But for me, Gypsy, even as a musical, exposes enough of The Truth to be powerful. As a result, I cannot even look at these vintage black and white photos of Gypsy Rose Lee (take by George Skadding for Life) and not have them tinged with the color of the exhaustion of triumph over sadness. But sadness remains just the same.

My gawd, how does anyone ever form relationships, mother, after the sort of mothering Gypsy Rose Lee had? So much hard work. …But there are hints of this in Gypsy, if you care to look for the subtle signs.

These Eyeglasses Look Upside Down – But They’re Not! (I Want!)

I found this Bert Stern photo of Kecia Nyman at Magdorable! — and fell in love with these glasses from 1965!

I’ve not been able to find anything like them, but I did find another scan of that Vogue issue (July 1965) which states the following:

More spectacles on the half-shell — with a switch that’s new to our eyes

…Worked out for the nearsighted, these clear the field of vision for all close work — reading, writing, gros- or petipoint — but provide quick accommodation for the distant objects that call for optical help.

They look upside down, but they’re not! And more than purely stylish, they solve problems; they’re like the reverse of the classic cheater readers.

I want — nay, I need a pair of these!

The article states that the frames are from the Fashion Eyewear Group of America. If you can help me find a pair, let me know!

Busted! As Good As “Our Bodies, Ourselves”

Bra Coach & Author Ali Cudby

Continuing my talk with Ali Cudby, author of Busted! The FabFoundations Guide To Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic. (Enter to win a signed copy of the book here!)

As a researcher *, I disagree that corsets were as restrictive as the roles women had in society. Because women controlled how tight they laced, could remove stays, etc., there was far more control by the individual over her corset than her culture. Culture has been far more damaging, suffocating, than any corset.

There were actually significant health issues directly tied to corsetry, as well, particularly when the fashions dictated the smallest possible waist. Women did permanent damage to their lungs and even rearranged their internal organs to accommodate corsets! Plus, it was (in my oh-so humble opinion) a lovely turn of phrase…and I love a good turn of phrase. :)

In that sense, women today who are not wearing a properly fitting comfortable bra are doing far worse things to themselves and their bodies than corsets, really. We are imprisoned by the places and times we live in, yes, but our ignorance of our bodies, our bras, is some sort of self-inflicted madness at this point…

Agreed, especially as society is less rigid today and women have much more opportunity to make decisions for themselves about how to dress, especially underneath their clothes.

To that extent, I see your book as a companion piece to the iconic Our Bodies, Ourselves. How can we be the action figures we need to be in our lives without knowing this fundamental functional part of our lives? That question may be rhetorical… (Feel free to comment though!)

Busted By Ali Cudby

Naturally, I love the idea of being a companion piece to the seminal Our Bodies, Ourselves! When it comes to bras, specifically, the thing I love is how empowered women feel when they figure out how fit works on their bodies. It’s fantastic to help a woman feel better in her skin and move past the negative body image messages perpetrated by the media.

I’m glad you mentioned body image messages in the media… Fundamentally, we women think we know our breasts. But we really don’t. I think we more about how our breasts are “supposed” to appear, clothed or not, and we certainly have feelings about that… But we really don’t know our own breasts, do we? How does this compound the matter of fit?

I don’t think I’ve said that women don’t know their own breasts, but women certainly get mixed messages about the role of breasts in society.

No, you didn’t say that bit about women not knowing our own breasts; I did. *wink* It seems we don’t know as much as we should, or we wouldn’t suffer with bras that don’t fit!

If you’ve never been taught how a bra should fit, and you may not even be aware of brands that are designed for your specific body type, it’s like trying to hit a moving target with a blindfold on!

In Chapter Two, in Once Upon A Time, When Fit Was A Fairy Tale, you discuss the fairy tale of fit:

Bra fitting can be confusing because there are so many pieces to literally fit together, and it’s not something most American women are taught — not at home, in school, or anywhere else. There’s no real mechanism for that education. It’s not taught in high school health classes. Many mothers overlook the chance to help their daughters get fit correctly, perhaps because they never experienced the benefits of the right fit themselves.

So poor bra fit is literally passed down through the generations!

Historically, speaking, what’s to blame for this? How much of women’s ignorance to the issues of bra fit are our fault? How much do we, must we, hold others accountable for? How do we take back our breasts, our health, our lives? Is there anything we can do at the consumer level?

I think economics and the bottom-line thinking that has been so pervasive in America is the culprit. Customer service has left the building in a lot of areas of the department store (except the men’s suit department…hmmm).

The good news is that I see a swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction. There are an increasing number of fit-based boutiques out there. Right now, most of them cater to the high end of the market, but it could be a beginning of a movement. I’d like to think so, at least! The product is there, the message is getting out…so I’m optimistic about the direction this industry is going.

We’ve all heard (and quite possibly ignored) the percentages of women who are not wearing a properly fitting bra; what does this percentage mean in terms of number of women?

The numbers are staggering. Between 80-100 million American women spend several billion dollars each year on bras that don’t fit and cause them physical and emotional harm!

And that’s just women over the age of 18 — the youngest group of women are actually most likely to wear bras that don’t fit.

Warning! The Wrong Bra Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

I know you’re not a doctor; and neither am I, but I’d guess this phenomenon of poor fitting bras and the increase of medications for depression, anxiety, aches and pains, lethargy, et al. is likely related. My readers might think I exaggerate — do you have any comments on the links between poor fitting bras and the things that ail us?

I know that women who have gotten fitted report that they no longer have daily headaches, shoulder aches and back pain. They stand taller and feel better — both physically and emotionally. I know that was true for me, and my experience is what led to me writing this book.

To say that proper bra fit can be life-changing may sound overblown to some, but I’ve seen it happen way too many times to question the phenomenon!

The reason I find your work, your book, so amazing is that women spend how many hours a day in their bras? I mean, even if we take them off the second we can, it’s a lot of hours to be miserable! Like that seminal feminist work, Busted! is based on the principal that we can be instruments of change — for ourselves, personally, and for society itself. In order to do that, we need to be educated. Did you have any idea when you began your work as a bra coach that you’d be writing such a book? Did the connections between bras and health, society, etc. surprise you?

First off, thanks! I really appreciate it. My work has evolved very organically. It started with my own moment of realization, when I found pretty bras that fit and were comfortable. I started talking to my friends about my discoveries and began helping them. Then friends started bringing friends, and the seeds of my fit methodology began to gel, and I started talking to industry experts and blogging about my experiences. The more I learned, the more I realized how pervasive this issue is, both from a comfort standpoint and also that connection to self-image so many women face.

Bra coaching goes way beyond bras — it goes to the core of how we carry ourselves as women. I didn’t expect that, and every time I hear back from someone who has benefitted from my fit methodology, it’s incredibly fulfilling. Helping women feel better about themselves is rewarding on so many levels.

Is this an American problem; are things better in the UK or elsewhere?

Culturally, women from the European countries seem to value buying fewer items of better quality more than in the US. And in the UK there is a wider array of product available in more places, it’s just easier to find stores that carry a variety of sizes. But availability of product doesn’t necessarily translate into excellence of fit. Fit is a challenge worldwide, simply because there are so few standards for sizing within the industry.

I would love to see American women placing more value on finding a quality garment that fits, versus going for the least expensive, or only buying on promotion.

Since you work with bra designers and other in the manufacturing industry I have to ask, how much of the problems regarding limited bra sizes begin there? Or is it the retailers who are the biggest problem?

I think there’s a ton of great product out there in a huge range of sizes – like I’ve said, 28AAA through 56N. The challenge is finding what works for you.

There are real issues for retailers when it comes to stocking that wide range of products, the amount of inventory required is mind-boggling. So (as with most things in life) it’s more complicated than it seems and I honestly believe that most manufacturers and retailers want their customers to be thrilled with their purchases.

Rather than focus on the inherent problems, I see a great opportunity for women — own the solution by understanding fit on your own body and finding the products that work for you, either in local stores or online. It’s very empowering!

Now go forth, ladies, empower yourselves with Busted!

Further reading: Another interview with Ali Cudby at A Slip Of A Girl.

* In fairness to Ali, and for clarification for you readers, I should note the following. Ali and I had a bit more of a discussion about corsets and history. She is operating off the more generally accepted wisdom about corsets, yet when I proffered her my research (What If Everything You Knew About The Corset Was Wrong?, Corsets Are Too Sexy?, Corsets Bound To Stay Suffrage), she not only read the posts but called them “fascinating!” We happily agreed to the following: Corsets, while restrictive, may not have been AS restrictive as women’s roles in society. That is probably more than a humble research obsessed feminist historical blogger can really ask for.

Of Research & Tinkle Troubles

Beautiful Sybil Tinkle As A Teen In Texas

Thanks to Twitter and my friend Cliff Aliperti of Immortal Ephemera (and occasionally blogging with me at Inherited Values — nudge, nudge, Cliff lol), I was alerted to a fabulous post by author Michael G. Ankerich (I now want every single one of his books!). Ankerich’s post is right up my alley — right down to the word “tinkle” lol

Olive Borden: The Sybil Tinkle Connection includes everything I love…

Beautiful female silent film stars, the joy and anguish of impeccable obsessive research, a case of mistaken (or misleading) identity which is only partially solved… For now.

Ankerich may have proved that Olive Borden was not Sybil Tinkle (despite the perpetuation of the story long after it was corrected), but so many questions remain…

Why does mythinformation continue to spread? What is it about this legend that keeps it going? Why the mix-up in the first place?  Accident or on purpose?

And, most importantly, whatever happened to Sybil Tinkle?

I want to know because I’ve fallen in love with her.

Young Sybil was said to be the first girl in Timpson, Texas, to smoke and “often painted outdoors, clad only in lingerie.” After a disastrous marriage in the early 1920s, Sybil ran away to California where she attempted to break into the movies. “Once in Hollywood, she wrote notes and sent portraits but, after a while, the family lost touch with her–forever!” (I say, has anyone ever looked at her husband?!)

From there, the Tinkle trail runs dry. A tasteless pun, perhaps; but it also captures the essence of things for me… Researching through old newspapers and other ephemera is rather like CSI work: you can only work off of the evidence left behind and, as time passes, it’s much harder.

Kudos to you, Mr. Ankerich, for the work you’ve done, for the women you’ve introduced me to — and for leaving just enough of a mystery for me to become obsessed with.

No More Crying In The Bra Fitting Room!

Few things excite me this much. Few contemporary things, that is. But I’m all giddy about a book that’s just been released: Busted! The FabFoundations Guide To Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic by Ali Cudby.

Ali Cudby is American’s #1 Bra Coach, the founder of Fab Foundations™ — and one hell of a great woman with a mission I adore. I was introduced to her by my friend and lingerie blogger, A Slip Of A Girl — who is, by the way, currently running a contest where you can win one of five copies of the book signed by the author. Go ahead; go enter the contest now. I’ll wait.

When Slip told me there was a book which could actually assist me in finding a bra — or even several bras! — which would fit while looking good and feeling super, I was skeptical. It seemed like the cosmetic ad promises: hope in a jar; hope between the covers. But quickly I found that Cudby’s book was more than hope and promises — it was a plan that works!

It was then that I became smitten with Ali Cudby, starting a dialog which was so long and insightful, that I’m breaking up the interview into two parts.  We begin with the personal…

Ali, your story, like mine, begins with the problems of big busted women — but that’s not the only women who have difficulty. Were you surprised — horrified? — that smaller-busted women also suffered from the insanity?

In the very beginning, I started with the idea of covering only full-busted women in the book – it never occurred to me that petite women had similar issues. I was shocked when I started hearing the stories from smaller-busted women. We all deserve to feel beautiful, and when you’re told to shop in the children’s department, or told you don’t even need a bra, it makes petite women feel like they don’t even count among the ranks of women. That’s a huge barrier to feeling feminine, so it makes sense that this book is for everybody…and every body!

There are 16 questions in the Personal Assessment at the end of Chapter One — I’m too embarrassed to admit how many of them I had the positive-sounding, but negative-in-reality, response of “Yes.” (In fact, I found myself starting with an emotional “Yes! She gets me — this must be common!” but after so many, my ego deflated…) How many of the 16 problem symptoms do you think the average woman has?

Great question! The intent of the Personal Assessment is certainly not to make your ego deflate — sorry! — but hopefully to help you realize that all of these issues will be addressed in the book. They are common!

I would say that the majority of women I fit (if they’re being honest) would be answering “yes” to at least 10 of the 16 questions, and oftentimes more like 13-14. The idea of the Personal Assessment in the beginning is to make it clear that there’s an issue (guess I did that!) and have the book guide you through turning all of those issues around by the final FabFit Assessment at the end of the book.

Obviously, the best way for a woman to get a bra that really fits, is to go into a store and try them on. But what about the times where literally, you cannot find a store with bras larger than 38DD — and those are, in fact, too small? (Yes, this is personal experience! Every clerk I asked about the possibility of bras in larger sizes, of hidden stock consisting of the less-flattering-on-display bra sizes, was shocked — as if I belonged in a circus!)

Are we really forced to order a bunch of guessed sizes in several bra styles and brands, have them shipped to us? I mean even if these places have easy return/exchange policies, this wreaks havoc with a lady’s finances! How do we at least narrow down such a big search so that we have less up front (so to speak!) investment in bras?

Hearing your story makes my blood boil! Too many women are made to feel like THEY are the problem and it’s absolutely NOT TRUE! The good news is that there are great (and gorgeous) bras out there, in a variety of price points and in sizes that range from 28AAA all the way to 56N!

In the book, I go through specific steps to help make Internet shopping work for you. That should cut down on both the confusion and the outlay of cash.

I also have a secret website only for people who buy the book, and not only is there great information on the site, but there are exclusive coupons as well. And I’m in conversation for contests and other goodies for the page. Heck, the book practically pays for itself! :)

In your book, you talk about the prices of bras. While you are clear to say that you don’t have to buy the most expensive bras, there is some truth in getting what you pay for as well… What’s a respectable, reasonable, price to pay for a decent bra? What’s the average lifespan of any bra? A properly fitting bra?

I think there’s a balancing act when it comes to price. Some of the most expensive bras out there are pieces of art, but not designed with fit in mind. Then there are very expensive bras that are absolutely amazing for fit, and are made from the finest materials, have incredible hand-stitched embroidery, lace, etc. You absolutely get what you pay for! But do you need to spend that kind of coin to get a bra that will fit properly? No, you don’t.

You are asking a bra to do a job, and for some of us, it’s a big job. You want a quality bra that will last without stretching out or falling apart.

Unfortunately, you can’t depend on price as a good indicator of quality, and that’s why I break down the quality indicators of a bra in the book — from construction to embellishments — to help you get the most bang for your buck.

How you take care of your bras will also have a HUGE impact on how long they last. There are a lot of numbers thrown around the industry for the lifespan of a bra, but I say it should last around 6 months of wearings, or until it’s no longer doing the job of supporting your bust.

[Breaking down the price of “expensive” to the ridiculous… Ladies, if you buy a $70 bra, that’s like $11 a month. If you even wear that bra 10 times, that’s just over a dollar a day.  Remember those old “less than the cost of a cup of coffee” commercials, designed to make you weak with the need to help a stranger? Why aren’t you moved to help yourself first? Tsk Tsk Tsk Charity begins at home! In this economy, can you afford to waste money on disposable cheap bras each month?]


Aside from the obvious changes in our bodies, such as weight changes, pregnancy, etc., how often should a woman go through the bra assessment? What are the average number of times a woman’s body changes enough to warrant a bra check?

You should reassess your fit every six months, plus any time your body undergoes a weight fluctuation of 5 or more pounds. Let’s say you get this book when you’re 20. If you use the information you learn to buy bras, you’re looking at 50+ years of bra purchasing. That’s around 100 times that you need to reassess your fit. And you need more than one bra, so figure you have at least 3-5 bras at any one time (the barest of minimums, including sports bras.) That’s a lot of bras over a lifetime! I think every woman deserves to look and feel amazing, and shouldn’t waste money on bras that don’t work for her body. (How many ill-fitting bras are collecting dust in your lingerie drawer?)

You know the old adage that you give someone fish and they eat for a day, or you teach someone to fish and they eat for a lifetime? Well, this book is all about teaching women to fish, so to speak. :) That’s why I call myself a bra coach – because I want all women to learn how to understand fit for their unique bodies, for the rest of their lives.

[That means, ladies, that Busted! is a book that pays for itself — and quickly. That’s even before you get to the secret goodies stashed on Ali’s site. Get this book before you even get the aforementioned quality bra and that bra will fit!]

This interview is “To Be Continued” — meanwhile, get yourself a copy of the book. Order it; enter to win it. Then come back tomorrow for the rest!

Hey Girl

Hey girl. Could you give me a recommendation for a good book — preferably something by a contemporary female author who deserves more recognition than she is getting because of misogyny in the mainstream publishing review worlds?

My sis-in-law alerted me to this site, Hey girl. I like the library too., by “Ryan Gosling, library and librarian lover.” Not sure how long it’ll last, but I’m diggin’ it now.

Book Review Blog Carnival #83

Reading Is Lovely

As promised, and with a little delay, I’m pleased to present the late latest edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival. Having been some time since I last hosted this book carnival, I’m pleased to see some familiar bloggers/book reviewers. That’s one of the great things about hosting carnivals; all those intentions to visit sites are realized because they are now part of your “to do” list. Another thing, for those of you who never seem to know just what to do with a “blog carnival,” here’s a tip on how to use them: Even if the books reviewed don’t seem to thrill you, check out the types of works presented, the titles of the blogs themselves, and see if they motivate you as actual book titles do, inducing you to “pick them up” by clicking the links and seeing if there’s more than meets first glance. Treat the carnival listings like a book shelf at a book store or in someone’s home… Browse and linger, stay awhile!

book reviews

Jim Murdoch presents The Instructions by Adam Levin posted at The Truth About Lies, saying, “This is the story of Gurion Maccabee, age 10: a lover, a fighter, a scholar, and a truly spectacular talker. Gurion has been expelled from 3 Jewish schools for acts of violence and messianic tendencies. He ends up in a special lockdown program for the most hopeless cases at Aptakisic Junior High. But in just 4 days Gurion’s search for righteousness sparks a violent, unstoppable rebellion. Driven equally by moral fervour and teenage exuberance, The Instructions is hilarious, troubling, empathetic, monumental, breakneck, romantic and unforgettable.”

JessicaLCope presents Book Review: The Devil’s Delusion posted at Grumbling & Gratitude, saying, “Concise thoughts on David Berlinki’s 2009 book The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.

Rachel presents To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) posted at Books In The Sun.

Zohar presents Thoughts on: Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen posted at Man of la Book.

Jim Murdoch presents The Whole Truth by Jim Murdoch posted at A Book A Day, saying, “Tonya Cannariato is the first to review Jim Murdoch’s ebook ‘The Whole Truth’ which at one point she compares to Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’. It’s a book containing two novels (which originally appeared separately as paperbacks) in which an old man ends up spending three days with the personification of truth for company. Philosophical, metaphysical, surreal and darkly comic by turns.”

KerrieS presents Review: THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY, Sally Spencer posted at MYSTERIES in PARADISE, saying, “Good reading. If you like Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope, or Helene Tursten’s Irene Huss, or Aline Templeton’s Marjorie Fleming, then you’ll take to Monika Paniatowski.”

Zohar presents Thoughts on: Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett posted at Man of la Book.

Zohar presents Thoughts on: Dracula by Bram Stoker posted at Man of la Book.

Jim Murdoch presents Moving Parts: an introduction to the poetry of Tim Love posted at The Truth About Lies, saying, “There are thousands upon thousands of poets online so why should you pay a blind bit of attention to Tim Love? Because Tim Love knows what he’s talking about, that’s why. He has written dozens of essays over the years talking about all aspects of poetry. This article focuses on his chapbook ‘Moving Parts’ but includes excerpts from his blogs and links to his various sites. Well worth checking out if you’re in any way serious about poetry as a craft.”

Zohar presents Thoughts on: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller posted at Man of la Book.

Cham Cuartero presents GOT FIGHT? by Forrest Griffin = Guaranteed Guffaws posted at eat ur banana.

Katie Sorene presents 2 Travel Books for Girls posted at Travel Blog – Tripbase, saying, “Reviews of Emily Barr’s latest novels – travel fiction for adventurous females with complicated lives.”

Pavarti K Tyler presents Book Snob Reviews – The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi posted at Pavarti K. Tyler – My life of Books and Beauty, saying, “This review was posted on Amazon and Goodreads as well.”

Jim Murdoch presents String Bridge by Jessica Bell posted at The Truth About Lies, saying, “Jessica says: I wrote String Bridge because I wanted to break into the women’s fiction market and steer it away from the stereotypically glorified woman that is most commonly portrayed today. Not every woman is inspirational to others. Not every woman can leave their comfort zone to better their future. But, so what? Does that mean a less strong-minded woman doesn’t have an interesting story to tell? Definitely not.”

Kalyan presents The Secret of the Nagas posted at Book Marks.

children’s books

Amy Broadmoore presents 10 Children’s Books About Math posted at Delightful Children’s Books, saying, “Here are ten excellent picture books about math. These books get kids thinking about numbers and problem solving in neat ways without realizing that they are learning math.”

Jamie presents Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins posted at The Perpetual Page-Turner – A Book Blog For Young Adult & Adult Books, saying, “Young adult fiction/teen fiction review technically but it could go under children’s.”

Read Aloud Dad presents If You Had To Choose, What Would You Do? posted at Read Aloud Dad.

fiction

David Gross presents The Picket Line — 6 October 2011 posted at The Picket Line, saying, “Simone de Beauvoir’s novel The Blood of Others”

Ilaria Linetti presents Aftertaste posted at Developing Report.

KerrieS presents Review: WHISPERING DEATH, Garry Disher posted at MYSTERIES in PARADISE, saying, “Looking for some quality Australian crime fiction? Here is an author and a title you shouldn’t miss.”

history

Andy Hayes presents Tales from the Fast Trains of Europe posted at Sharing Travel Experiences, saying, “Learn about the long storied history of Europe via it’s new sleek, speedy rail network.”

non fiction

Rebecca Turner presents A Review of Paranormality by Professor Richard Wiseman posted at World of Lucid Dreaming.

Clark Bjorke presents The Guild Guitar Book posted at I’ll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book!, saying, “This book will be of interest to vintage guitar buffs, otherwise, not so much.”

novel

Sarah Ahmad presents The Lord of the Rings posted at The Book Nook.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival right here. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the
blog carnival index page
.

“In My Book, You’re Voluminous”

In My Book, You're Voluminous Bookmark

A few years ago, at the first annual Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention, I met Robin Blum and discovered her fabulous bookmarks, In My Book®. In My Book® cards are more than just placeholders for readers, but markers of relationships as the bookmarks begin as greeting cards — complete with a red mailing envelope.

There are 15 styles, each beginning with the greeting, “In my book…” and concluding with literary pun sentiments, such as “you’re novel”, “you’re top shelf” and, my favorite, “you’re voluminous.” The entire front of the card is perforated, so tearing along the perforations changes the greeting card into a bookmark. It’s more than clever recycling, it’s a great way to give a gift that book lovers will actually love. The double-entendres are an added bonus. *wink*

Finally, we managed to find the time to do an interview…

In a world where people at least fear that physical paper books will disappear, why go into any business based on print books? And with such an ephemeral item yet!

Every so often, we need to reinvent ourselves as the circumstances surrounding our lives change with time and happenstance; I found a new calling at the age of fifty as an entrepreneur with a previously non-existent book-related product called In My Book®.

A bit of background: During WWII my immigrant parents settled in DC as newlyweds and Dad established his own small business, The Kronstadt (Advertising) Agency. Mom was a stay-at-home wife and mother. After attending DC public schools and then GWU with a major in drama, I set out for New York City and what I hoped would be a thriving theater career. I was a stage manager and lighting designer and had a fair amount of success in my twenties working in show biz. My thirties began in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, where I served as the managing director of an amphitheater, the Reichhold Center; that’s also where I met my husband-to-be. We moved back to New York and when our sons were little, I followed my mother’s lead and stayed at home with them, later easing back into work for the children’s book publisher Kane/Miller (Everyone Poops plus many other great titles).

At a crossroads in my life (leaving my part-time job with Kane/Miller and with my children firmly established in middle school), I decided it was time for the next chapter (warning, more literary double-entendres ahead). With a lifelong love of reading and the know-how I acquired in publishing, I established my own start-up, In My Book®, “the greeting card and bookmark in one.”

I started the business in 1999 and sold my first cards in 2000, so the e-book e-ink rage was not yet in full swing.

The ‘fear that physical paper books will disappear’ has been just another obstacle in pretty much a decade of obstacles that I’ve encountered. But then everyone thought Columbus was crazy to attempt to sail to the East Indies.

First there was the dot.com boom, then 9/11, then the rise of chain bookstores and Amazon, then the disappearance of indie bookstores, then the collapse of the economy, then the spread of e-books and the quasi-obsolescence of publishers. I was and continue to be determined to introduce book lovers to the concept of “In My Book” cards and damn the torpedos as they say…full speed ahead.

Any thoughts on the print publishing industry?

I can’t envision a time when people won’t want to collect, read, share and display the books they’ve enjoyed and the books they continue to treasure as the foundation of their personal libraries. Books with illustrations and graphics in particular can never be surplanted by e-ink. The fact that e-books are quickly gaining in popularity does not necessarily reflect what method or mode of reading people will gravitate to in the future. For now, it’s new, it’s cool, it has a certain appeal as the latest thing/ le dernier mode.

Novel Gift: Bookmark & Greeting Card

What I like best about In My Book is that they are the perfect “Just because” gift. And they are great add-ons when trying to “even up” at holiday time, etc. Oh, and they are a nice way to deliver things like gift certificates. Plus, they are the greeting card too. OK, so that’s more than one thing, but… I love them! When you discover them, it’s one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” or “Why haven’t these always existed!” moments. What was the inspiration?

I had been working in publishing and knew that I could not advance past a certain stage with that organization. I wanted to do my own thing related to publishing and I started with the idea of a unique bookmark. I love paper and I’ve always liked the idea of changing the text on printed greeting cards. As the idea developed, and the bookmark expanded into a greeting card, the concept and format of In My Book® was born (the name was hit upon in the shower). In 2000, I hired a wonderful illustrator, Meredith Hamilton, to do the artwork.

I had a brief, but shinning I like to think, career in writing greeting cards; it’s a lot harder than it looks *wink* Where do you start when creating — with the greeting cards and occasion themes? Or is it primarily book (and pun!) based?

My advice to anyone thinking about starting a greeting card company is think twice. There are so many talented artists and varied styles of greetings available, but if you must follow your muse, be aware that the hardest part of making a success is not in designing or manufacturing the cards, it’s the challenging task of getting the cards sold and distributed in sufficient volume to make it work economically. And you have to do a lot of horn-tooting or be able to pay for someone to do it for you.

With the In My Book line, I defied the popular notion of sending greeting cards for holidays and special occasions. None of my cards are occasion-based; which means, who needs an occasion to send them, they’d ‘work’ for even an ordinary day! The cards could be used for a birthday or anniversary, but senders could also just to write a short note, enclose a gift certificate, give a check or cash (perfect size for that), or send them as a thank you note for a teacher, librarian, doctor or nurse, or as a graduation or promotion card. Enclose a pair of tickets to a show or send a ‘keep the date’ reminder. All of the fifteen styles are literary-oriented, either based on a particular genre (novel, mystery, adventure, poetry), or literary terminology (in between the covers, the last word, the happy ending). All are pun-based and light-hearted, and hopefully will continue to remind the recipient of the person who sent them the card as they continue to use it as a bookmark. They recycle!

Which designs are most popular? Do you think that’s based purely on book genre?

Most popular in terms of sales are classic, novel, rare, happy ending and top shelf. Voluminous is the least popular, although I think there are a lot of people who look at but don’t necessarily buy the beautiful Ingres-based nude. Americans are still puritanical. I hope that buyers select the card based on the person they plan on sending it to…but of course different styles cause different reactions and individuals’ tastes come into play.

Thanks for your time, Robin!

Now that you are sold on the idea of In My Book® cards, you can get them direct from Robin. Or, if you are out and about and wish to support local businesses and organizations, look for them at over 500 independent book and library stores — including at the Library of Congress store.

If you run a bookstore, museum shop, etc. or your historical society or library is looking for a way to raise funds, cards may be purchased at a wholesale rate.

PS More styles of In My Book® bookmarks/cards are presently in the works and will be available in Spring of 2012!

Antique Japanese Pop Culture For Tourists

A bunch of little gems found in The Club Hotel, Limited: Guide Book of Yokohama, Tokyo and Principal Places in Japan, printed at the “Box Of Curios,” No. 58, Main Street, Yokohama, Japan. There’s no copyright or publication date, but the book is circa 1880s to 1910s.

The people who stamp about the streets playing a double whistle are blind Shampooers, i.e. “Massage” operators by trade.

Japanese baths are generally heated with charcoal, and it is well to be careful of asphyxia from the fumes. The bath-houses with men and women bathing in full sight of each other, are a curiosity to Europeans.

This idea of co-ed bath-houses, or at least visibility in Japanese bath-houses, contradicts everything we think we know about Japanese modesty, i.e. the information on this antique, circa 1915, lantern slide literature piece:

The woman is taught from girlhood to be modest, retiring and obedient as daughter and wife, and as a rule she is almost certain to avoid spinsterhood, so well-planned is the marriage machinery in Japan. Courtship is unknown as we know it. The bringing about of marriages regularly the work of a private go-between, who brings the young people together after the parents on both sides, with additional precautionary inquisitorial go-between, have agreed to a proposed match. Thus girls often select their husbands unknown to the bridegroom himself, for the selection is usually supposed to be and usually is the result of the go-between’s astute observation, the initiative coming from one or the other parents, who says in effect, ‘Pray you good friend, find a spouse for my daughter– or son” as the case may be. In this way even when a young man or young woman has a small purse or a bodily defect some one equally short in cast or corporal perfection is found and the thing is done. The young people meet at a theater or feast; they chat gingerly with each other and final consent is given. No courtship and absolutely no kissing!’

Listed on the same page of this antique Japan travel guide as Japanese Wrestling, Public Libraries, Museums, Places Of Worship — and across from the small map of the Temples of Shiba — are the Geisha or Singing girls, which could be ordered through the tea-house.

In materials associated with this1915 lantern slide of geisha girls, there is more detail on the hiring of the women:

The geisha houses, rather humble, certainly unpretentious abodes, group themselves in certain quarters, and the hiring of the girls is done methodically through a central office. The hiring should be accomplished by the restaurant keeper or by the housewife as early in the afternoon as possible, but not after six in the evening, unless absolutely unavoidable. For the preparation of the Geisha is an elaborate affair from the wonderful coiling and adorning of her hair to the fit of her white, heelless shoes. They are taken in rickishas to the house of entertainment and carried home in the same way when all is over.

In Chapter V, day trips in the area surround Tokyo, Geisha girls — “pleasure boats full” — are also mentioned.

Information on another antique lantern slide depicting a geisha:

The geisha or singing girl to the “Western” mind fills out the romantic ideal of modern Japan. To the native she is simply a sublimated waitress with dancing and singing trimmings, but she is also a chosen vehicle of Japanese romance. Visions of her dressed in showy silken robes waving a large fan, her black hair marvelously coifed, a fixed smile on her face and moving in rhythmic steps with a special flowing elegance of gesture, rise before those who have seen her at her high functions. Ever to the accompaniment of the tinkling strings of the of the samisen and the full beat of the tsuzumi that picture comes back to the foreigner as the flower of his reminiscence of Japan.

The 14th day, suggests the “opportunity of witnessing the theatres,” of which “Danjuro is admittedly the best actor in Japan.”  This 1915 lantern slide is presumably the man himself; likely a descendant of this Danjuro.

And the 15th day one must go to the Bazaar in Shiba Park to “see the gamour dancing girls at the Maple Club, (Koyo Kwan) for which you must obtain an introduction from a member, and afterwards go to the No Dances, a kind of ancient opera, held in the immediate vicinity.”

According to Queer Things About Japan, by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen, 1904:

The most the ordinary globe-scorcher has to say for Japanese theatres is that they please the Japanese — common Japanese. The good-class Japanese do not go to them. They go in for No-dances, which strike the scoffing European as very well-named; not being dances at all, but a sort of religious play, with posturing and singing and declamation.

Additional information that accompanies this lantern slide:

The Japanese love the theater, and it is a thoroughly national institution. You will be told in select circles how up to the Restoration in 1868 the theater was looked down on, and actors in the view of the samurai class were beneath contempt– the offensive manifestants of a degrading kind of exhibition. There was, no doubt, much affectation in this. The popular theater was supposed to clash with the traditions of the Japanese classic drama know as the “No or “No Dance”.

Today there are hundreds of theaters giving popular drama. The “No” is a collection of some two hundred and thirty-two dramatic episodes, mostly tragic, which were collected and given permanent form in the early fifteenth century.

How Much To Put On An Authentic Beverly Hillbillies Play?

The Beverly Hillbillies, A Comedy In Three Acts, Based Upon The Television Program “The Beverly Hillbillies” Created By Paul Henning, Adapted by D. D. Brooke, 1968.

This was published by The Dramatic Publishing Company, Chicago — and that’s just who you’d have had to pay if you wanted to put on a performance of the play: $35 for the first amateur performance, $25 for the second, and $20 for each subsequent performance, providing arrangements were made in advance.

As a writer, I love the simple copyright information:

This law provides authors with a fair return for their creative efforts. Authors earn their living from the royalties they receive on the book sale and on the performace of their works. To copy parts or give performances of a royalty play without paying royalties robs the authors of their livelihood.

I’m giving this vintage play away on Listia as a collectible; it does not come with any permission to perform the play. (If you don’t yet know what Listia is, check out my review.)

Now That You’re Big, Stop Being A Sexist Pig

Now That You’re Big, by Simon Greiner “with apologies to Dr. Seuss,” is an amusing parody of the classic kids’ books with a twist: Now That You’re Big is about sexuality. Including the one activity that is supposed to make you go blind — masturbating.

At first glance, it’s down-right clever; but then something creeps in and creeps you out… Men are having all the fun in this book, not women.

Ms.JayLynn notices and points it out too:

The Dr. Suess nature of this is great, but unfortunately I have to offer a bit of criticism. You’ve done a lot to reinforce standard gender stereotypes.

The section for guys reinforces the idea that it’s ok to ogle girls, and masturbate. The section for girls is all about “be careful because you might be pregnant. Really? Is that the message you want to be sending?

How about teaching girls that masturbating is a good thing and not something to be ashamed of? And what about teaching guys the importance of being respectful and mature about birth control?

Also, where’s the safer sex message? With the millions of euphimisms about condoms, there’s gotta be a way to put at least one of them in a Dr. Suess fashion. Don’t you think that’s an important message to put out there?

Maybe this was all done in fun and games, and you were just amusing yourself with it. Great! I’m glad you had some fun and put together an awesome piece in the style of Dr. Suess. However, there’s a much bigger picture here as well, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to consider it.

Be well.

Despite her “Be well,” Ms.JayLynn was, of course, bashed for not having a sense of humor.

Hey, Ms.JayLynn, come on over here where we understand that sometimes inequality just isn’t funny. Sometimes even jokes and humorous pieces when just left to their own comedic devices do more than inspire giggles — they perpetuate the stuff that makes us insane. Like treating women as problems not people entitled to their own pleasures. Like not discussing the health concerns by omitting condoms — but still pointing out pregnancy, as if it were “the worst” and something women are responsible for. Ugh.

As for those leaving nasty comments to MsJaylynn, here’s something for you to consider: Now that you’re big, stop being a sexist pig.